There’s snow piled up on the window sill, Christmas music playing and cranberry-pistachio biscotti in the oven. I feel a little like a Norman Rockwell painting.
The kids next store are bundled up A Christmas Story-style and playing in the snow. I woke up to the sound of plows, not my alarm. Ahhh it feels like winter holiday is officially here.
Sure I am taking 8:30pm Friday night conference calls and working crazy hours right now. But despite the fact that I’m not taking any real days off of work- its baking season and I am determined to celebrate our last Christmas in the states in all sorts of red and green and snowy style and good cheer.
First up was the toffee and the homemade peppermint marshmallows, now its time for biscotti. This recipe is one of my all time favorites and has been in my annual baking line up for a few years now.
These aren’t your typical biscotti. For one, they aren’t long and lean, as if shaped to do battle with your coffee. These guys are rather short and stubby (and cute to boot, I think). For two, they don’t require you to make a trade-off between your dental work and a requisite long coffee dunk. Rather than dry and hard, these guys have a lovely bit of chewiness to them. They are as lovely un-dunked as they are dunked though let me assure you, dunked biscotti are one of the greatest tactile and tasty pleasures in the world.
How else are these cute and short and stubby little guys different from your typical Starbucks or Costco biscotti? They are pretty! With bright green pistachios and jewel-like cranberries, these little guys practically scream to be put on a pretty cookie plate or bundled up in pretty packaging for your friends and neighbors.
This year I picked up some instant Starbucks coffee (yes, I too scoffed but now I know better) and put it in a pretty bag with some of the biscotti and-voila! A back of instant-pick-me-up for my fellow bleary-eyed and overworked colleagues.
But onto the recipe!
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon whole aniseed
- 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- 3/4 cup shelled natural unsalted pistachio (as a poor college student whose budget was already stretched I would shell the pistachios myself-though I highly recommend buying pre-shelled if you can-just watch out for the salt factor!
- 6 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped (optional)
The Preparation: (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl to blend well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time.
Mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and aniseed.
Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky or not sticky at all-mine never is for some reason).
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1 1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart. (In a pinch, you can do this right on your silpat-lined baking pan if you have one and skip the flour mess)
Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.
Line another baking sheet with waxed paper. Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water just until smooth. Remove from over water. Dip 1 end of each cookie into melted chocolate, tilting pan if necessary; shake off excess chocolate. Place cookies on prepared sheet. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)